The Elements of a Bestselling Thriller: Top Tips for Authors
by Adam Durnham
When it comes to conjuring ideas for a thriller or mystery, authors should create perspectives that are relevant to current readers with a special attention to market trends. What are the possible elements of a bestselling thriller? Read to know more.
After reading a gripping mystery or thriller, do you find yourself thinking about how interesting it was? If you’re an author, there are elements to bestselling thrillers that can help your readers stay on the edges of their seats.
In order to do this, authors may want to strike a balance between the foundational elements of their work and current trends in thrillers and mysteries. Here are some top tips for authors who are planning to create pieces in these special genres.
Pick the type of thriller or mystery genre that you want to create
Thriller or mystery novels are broad categories on their own. It is important to know who your target readers are. Knowing your target audiences will help you determine the literary subgenre that you will use. Some thriller subgenres include:
- Psychological thrillers: These thrillers include themes relating to psychological or mental health conditions. The protagonist or the perpetrators in such stories might have mental health issues.
- Mystery thrillers: These thrillers feature mysteries that revolve around a crime, accident, or another incident. The protagonists in these works find and analyze clues throughout the stories.
- Science fiction thrillers: These popular thrillers incorporate science fiction topics. Authors may be particularly creative with this subgenre, which may include futuristic themes such as aliens, monsters, human cloning, and entirely new worlds.
Developing clear ideas about your subgenres gives you a laser-sharp focus on the elements that you want to place in your story. The focus helps readers feel that your characters, settings, plot twists, and other crucial parts of your work are thematic and fit together cohesively.
Choose relevant themes
Theme is quite different from your subgenre. It unifies your story and gives something for your readers to think about as they progress through your story. This is helpful if you want to create a thriller or mystery novel, since you want to provide puzzle pieces that the readers can think about as they approach the end.
Consider using thriller or mystery story themes that people find relatable. They can involve problems such as mental health, addiction rehab, crime, or social injustices. These themes can bring value to your readers, especially if your readers advocate for such topics. Your book has a better chance at reaching the best-seller lists if many of your readers have firsthand experience with or knowledge of your themes.
Successful writers pay attention to what is happening in the larger culture. When topics about mental health, addictions, crime, or social problems appear in the news, books and movies associated with these relevant themes also appear.
Plot your story before beginning to write
Before starting your first chapter, consider creating an outline of your thriller or mystery to develop your plot. Outlines are important for many types of work, but they are especially crucial for thrillers and mysteries because those genres include large amounts of action. Creating a well-plotted story can help you avoid unnecessary fluff and irrelevant elements in your writing.
Your plot should include a buildup of conflict, and your characters’ goals and motivations should be consistent with your themes. Thrillers or mysteries can start at the middle of the action to create a thrilling atmosphere that you can heighten for effect.
Experiment with multiple points of view
One sign of a great author is his or her flexibility in presenting the points of view of various characters. Some bestselling thrillers and novels shift between the viewpoints of the protagonists and the villains in the stories instead of presenting the story entirely in the third person perspective.
Shifting between multiple points of view depends on your theme and other elements of your story. But multiple viewpoints can greatly benefit mystery and psychological thrillers. They can showcase the depth of the story and portray the intrinsic motivations, thoughts, and actions of the characters.
Create interesting plot twists
To develop an interesting plot twist, you need to get inside the minds of readers. One element of bestselling thrillers or mystery novels is that many plot twists can appear quite predictable at the beginnings of stories yet profound and surprising at the ends of the same pieces.
You can create these puzzle pieces to appear one way at the beginning and middle of your stories while creating a sense of jeopardy and conflict. Such story construction encourages readers to exercise their common sense and typical thought processes as they proceed through the plot.
When they encounter your story’s plot twist, readers may be surprised and pleased when your writing reveals your actual story. This shift is what makes the story gripping and exciting for readers. Well-written plot twists are one of your greatest tools as an author of mysteries or thrillers.
Ready, set, write!
If you keep in mind these elements of writing a bestselling novel, you can stay on top of your game. Great authors create solid foundations for their stories, incorporate creativity, and understand trends that matter to readers.